Speaker Placement - When it's perfect!

So many audiophiles have commented that when your room treatment is completed, your electronics set up and tweaked and most importantly, your speakers are set up in your listening space correctly that you'll know it because everything just sounds so "right" and natural.  I just accomplished that feat in the last two weeks.  I say two weeks because I needed to play a wide variety of recordings to be sure that I'm there.  It is so great to have finally hit just the right set up.

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that it has taken me well over a year of experimentation to get to this point.  It's not that other placements yielded poor quality sound its just that now everything sounds like a live event (as much as any of our systems can).

I would really appreciate hearing about your journey to the promised land of audiophile/music lover bliss.  How long did it take, what were the most difficult aspects of the journey?  And if you have yet to get there, what do  you think is the "brick in your wall"?
Took me about two years, main problem being bass cancellation from the front wall. Speakers have down firing subs, active and the distance from the front wall and side walls needed slight adjustments. The one note bass finally disappeared when traps on the rear wall and distances from the front and side were tweaked.
Also the tweeters needed taming, but I was relentless with tube rolling as the system is all tube components. It has all paid off and it’s been months since any changes were made. Honestly, the speakers were moved, sometimes fractions of an inch, at least a hundred times. Moved the listening position many times as well.
One thing I learned is that the sweet spot is the sweet spot. You can’t fool physics. Now, two people can sit on the couch and the effect off center is very tolerable, but no denying the sweet spot.
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my listening room is a living room of sorts so i have a few constraints that preclude a lot of speaker related tweaks other than trying to stick to the “ hocus pocus” formula of the hard physics of node creation. My choice of speaker includes 11 bands of EQ below 120 HZ so getting that right, tweaking level and Q on the sub consumes a few hours...
i do have 5 dedicated circuits and some ground float cheaters and some isolation tweaks but overall the hours put in were not excessive...
@dentdog Those fractions of an inch that you moved your speakers...I can relate to that. Actually that’s when I knew I was close. It was remarkable how much of a difference a fraction of an inch made especially as regards toe-in.

@kosst_amojan I bought those Walmart mattress pads too early on in my quest. An inexpensive way to experiment with room treatment!

@agriculturist I never used the Cardas info. from your link but I’m going to take a look at the different layouts to see if any fits my situation. (But I am NOT moving my speakers!)

@tomic601 Since your are not in a dedicated listening room, I imagine the EQ abilities and "Q" adjustments really helped you out.
Understand where you're coming from hifiman5. Eerily similar journey, just reached my Nirvana point a few months ago. Dedicated room, dedicated outlets, room treatments, microscopic movements of the speakers and the listening seat. Amazing. Sonic bliss. Can listen for hours without fatigue. Good recordings yield goosebumps. Very, very happy. So happy I can focus on music purchases instead of gear purchases. Feels incredible to get off the "upgrade train".
Thanks for sharing the post, and thanks for your honesty.

One thing I notice when I got my Andras correct placement , it’s like the speakers interact with each other, the way band are or orchestra, I feel the music the way  it intended for the listener...I neglected speakers placement, too busy finding the right cabling and tweaking...yes moving inches by inches did work for this kind of speakers... 

You asked how long did it take. Since I got into this hobby in 1975 and have never gotten results like I have now, I guess you could say it's taken me...42 YEARS. Obviously, a bit of exaggeration there, lots of systems, rooms, homes, wives, dogs and cats, kids.
Current system took about two years. I can only now say it's worth it.

Locating perfect speaker locations by ear is a fool’s errand since you can never know when you have actually found the perfect locations. You keep looking and looking and finally give up. First of all almost all speakers are too far apart. Not to mention why it takes two years to find the "perfect locations." 😛 And audiophiles wonder why they have a big old hole in the middle of their soundstage. Why do audiophiles think speakers have to be 9 feet apart and toed in to get a good soundstage?

Start with speakers fairly close together, let’s say 4 feet, and work out from there. Avoid toe in except as last resort. Oh, and instead of trial & error use the speaker placement track on the XLO Test CD. Trial and error is like trying to solve X simultaneous equations in X+n unknowns - you can only find local maximums. And the XLO track is much easier. That particular track is also invaluable for placing room acoustics thingamabobs. You should find that Tube Traps, for example, should sometimes be placed away from the room corner, sometimes maybe a foot or two away, it all depends. But it’s a game of inches. The standing wave isn’t always where you think it is.

 I agree that a wide variety of placements need to be tried in a specific listening environment.  I have done that!  Perhaps that's why it took me so long to find that exact correct placement in my space.  I followed the speaker manual's suggestions for placement, tried the "rule of thirds", tried locating speakers in the room's "power zone" etc.  

What helped me get to where I am now was keeping an ongoing record of all the locations I had tried.  I recorded exact measurements each time I moved the speakers and as things got worse, I would go back to a previous location and tweak from there.

Like I mentioned in the original post, I only know that I'm where I want to be because of the consistency of sound from an eclectic selection of music.  Each song from each source is just there in the room with all the various instruments sounding real or at least as real as any of us are capable of hearing through any form of electronic reproduction.  There is a dynamic ebb and flow to the music and truth of timbre that inform me that it is time now to just sit back and enjoy the music.  Hallelujah!
@jayctoy and @tomcarr   Congratulations!  It can be a long and very winding road, but when you find that pot of gold at the end, it is blissful.

Enjoy the music!
Thanks hifiman5! 
And congratulations to you too!
So true. That's what it's all about.

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You wouldn’t kid me would you? Do you think I fell off the turnip truck yesterday? I didn’t say 4 feet anyway. Try to pay attention. I said *start* with 4 feet. That way you won’t overlook the real absolute distance, which is often a lot less than folks out there think. I won't mention any names.

@kosst_amojan  Just wondering what size your listening space is if you can have your speakers 12 feet apart?
Hifiman5 forgive me for first words should have been congratulations!!!! 

In short yes 11 bands of EQ , Q and level helpful as is the laser jig used to aim the 7
those along with math and Vandertones are the starting point for good sound.

a comment about rooms from RV : most dedicated rooms are sterile and lack natural diffraction- i can assure you with books, music, art furniture, the odd this and that including a sleeping Labrador, we lack not in natural diffraction!
my currrnt space needs much less EQ than most - with 4 openings a very high slopes ceiling, loft, etc - it does not need much tuning...
Designed my audiorooms for such use when I designed my home so now it takes me about 30 mins or less to properly set up a loudspeaker to match room and system. Sure I may make slight changes but mostly since rooms designed for it its fast and easy. I have about 6ft between my mains but they are 80in wide 

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Every year or so I seem to find a new “perfect” spot for my speakers. It’s like getting new speakers free. 
@tomic601   Didn't realize you have the Vandy 7 mk.II.  That plus the other gear you have listed must make for a fabulous system.  I'm betting that high ceiling allows the 7s to produce quite the soundstage.  You are definitely playing in the "big leagues".
@johnk  Nothing like a dedicated listening room designed for audio.  That must make positioning a lot easier.  I have the good fortune of a dedicated basement room, but the dimensions of the room were to the limit of the house design...but a nice place to listen!
kosst_amojan   Thanks for the description of your listening space.  It's a big area, but as you said quite asymmetrical.  It must have taken quite a lot of effort not to mention patience to get your system to sound right.  As I mentioned in my  original post I tried many of the formulas for speaker placement and none of them got me to THE spot.
@stevizzy Is it audiophile nervosa that keeps you finding a new perfect spot or do things change in your system that provokes you to continue moving the speakers. I'm not throwing stones here believe me.  Getting just the right set-up that locks the sound in for you is not usually an easy process.  Lots of experimentation!  Good luck finding that spot where everything locks in.
Anyone who has ever played around with room treatments, you know, like Tube Trap, Echo Tunes, Skyline diffusers, Helmholtz resonators, tiny little bowl resonators, Mpingo discs, crystals, things of that nature knows that it takes a while to locate the ideal locations for any of those things. Compound that with the speaker location issue and you have an almost never ending search for the absolute best location for everything. As new acoustic thingies are added the while cycle of experimentation begins anew. That’s why, if you’re really serious about this, you should be using the XLO Test CD speaker placement track every time you change something in the room. You want the guy’s voice on the Test CD to "sound like it’s coming at you from all around the room." That’s when the system will be most diffuse, since the track is an out of phase track. Then, when the system is IN PHASE the stereo image and sound will be optimum. Make sense?

Of course, everything is relative. Initially you might not hear much with the out of phase track but as you get better at it and the system gets more accurate, the impression that the sound is completely non-directional, coming at you from no particular direction, will become more and more obvious. So, not only must speakers be set up to within a inch of the exact location where the sound is the best but all the various room acoustics devices must be precisely placed too. 😳

I have noticed that as I drain the resonant bowl next to my right hand the image tends to deepen and the bloom comes off the rose and floats right over Diana Krall Head....

IMO, how can you get the best out of your equipment unless you have a perfect tuned room, which IMO, is a dedicated audio room with the right dimensions and with room treatments. Living rooms or rooms that have openings on 1 side and not the other, bookshelves on 1 side wall and let’s say glass on the opposite, or other non-dedicated rooms with no control of reflections, how would you ever get symmetry to get good SQ? I have built 2 custom homes in the last 15 years with dedicated audio rooms in each. Each room uses Multiple dedicated outlets, has just 1 chair, and still use multiple room treatments. 
i am blessed
been connected one way or another with Vandersteen for going on 35 years now
works for me
yes the slopes ceiling and multitudes of openings , stairwells provide a varied acoustic 
just a fellow traveler on the quest
i'm with atomic 601, but I have a big one in the right hand, little in the left. The big one seems to wash over the little one. And my room is often overloaded with those roses, but they never had much of a smell to me.
i can always smell the roses when i play this

” take me down little Suzie, take me down”

Dead Flowers by The Rolling Stones

play it loud !,,,
which does bring up a good point....ever notice all those live plants in the Vandy booths at shows all over the world ?

I also own this XLO Test CD and have found it to be very helpful in setting-up my speakers. Years ago, I had both speakers precisely the same distance from front/side walls and one speaker was always louder and pulling the image away from the center. The Test CD allows you to hear the offending speaker and move it or use the balance or gain on your preamp to effect similar results...

"which does bring up a good point....ever notice all those live plants in the Vandy booths at shows all over the world ?"

Very ironic and probably one of those old wives tales audiophiles sometimes tell since any live plant or flower in the room actually hurts the sound.


Hifiman - I also have a basement listening room. I love the quiet of being underground. Mine is a walkout, so I do get some outside noise, but I also get natural light and a door to the outside where I can go light some incense. A fair trade. I definitely noticed how the sound image snapped into focus once I got my toe in correct. I’d never toed my previous speakers in as much as these. But it sounds right.

Now I’m working on the room. I just bought a calibrated mic and have been using REW to take measurements. I’ve definitely found the problem frequencies I was hearing. Now that I have some measurements, it’s time to decide on some bass management..
I can’t wait to hear it when it’s fixed. I remember how good everything above 200Hz sounded when I sorted out absorption in that range.
But bass seems more difficult
I can honestly say that a quarter inch or half inch off on toe in does make a difference. The other huge improvement that is one of the cheapest is using acoustic treatments for corners,  walls for reflections and eliminating echo. The biggest change I noticed to really make everything sound more cohesive and less bright with way more clarity and definition was treating my room. Huge difference, I'm waiting on Wavewood diffuser/absorption panels for my back wall to see the difference they make, I'm sure it will be good. 

that must be why all those nice recordings i make at church sound so honked up at 15 ips....i can hear those preamp tubes telling the ribbons “ kill the plants for Jesus”

I want the empirical study, the double blind statistical results and logarithmic adjusted scope printouts before I will ever believe live plants deteriorate the sound. Especially those live and floating roses.
Please realize that the methods to be used above the Schroeder frequency (mostly somewhere between 100-200 Hz, depending on room size) are different from those to be used below.
Moreover, the closer you sit to the speakers, the smaller the contribution from the listening room. Near field listening can be quite revealing.

I want the empirical study, the double blind statistical results and logarithmic adjusted scope printouts before I will ever believe live plants deteriorate the sound. Especially those live and floating roses.

>>>>I suspect the whole idea of putting plants in the listening room - and to a certain extent flowers - stems no pun intended 😀 from the use of plants and flowers in some high end systems at CES and other big shows and also arose 😀 from photos showing them in audiophile home systems. Presumably the plants (and flowers) act as diffusers or some such thing and or provide a more natural, attractive, soothing, atmosphere or whatever. Subliminal message: Relax, listen to how good the sound is. You are getting sleepy...

Ironically, as I said, plants and flowers actually hurt the sound. It’s not as if they don’t do anything. Bad rose, bad! 🌷 It’s an obvious case of expectation bias. So, if you have plants or flowers in the room take them outside ASAP. Let your sound bloom. Leave plants and flowers in your room at your own peril. 😄Check it out! Audiophiles need to root out the problems in the room that are not on the standard radar. The usual suspects have been discussed to death - the tube traps, the panels, the tiny bowl resonators, Helmholtz resonators.

I used the Rule of Thirds (29% Version) for speaker placement found on this site yesterday.


My room is 154" x 134." I am setup along the long wall.

Rule of Thirds (29% Version)

"This is my favorite placement recommendation, and at least in my room isolated the sound from the room very well, as close to listening outside as I've gotten. I recommend starting with this and then backing up the speakers to the main wall as needed for adding a little bass reinforcement back into the sound and making room for other furniture if needed. Just watch out for the mid bass getting muddy as you back up the speakers."

Space Between Speakers  64.68" (5.39')
Head to Main Wall  94.87" (7.9')
Speaker From Main Wall  38.86"
Speaker from Side Wall  44.66"

Previously my speakers were (measured from the center line of the speaker):

Speaker from Main wall  29"
Speaker from side wall  31"

I've never had my speakers placed this far into the room before and never had them this close. So far, I'm really liking the results. I'm getting a much flatter response (Vandy 2cs Sig II's). The soundstage is much more coherent and stable. The depth of the soundstage is  crazy! Guitars are coming out of the front plane of the speakers. While vocals and drums sound like they are coming from 3 feet behind the speaks.

I know that good sound is very subjective. Are there any thoughts on any of the above?

I should mention that I'm using a Belles Aria int. amp. Source is a Node 2. Speaker cables are AQ Go-4. Gik bass panels behind speaks and diffusers at 1st reflection points.



Interesting. I'm also using 2Cs, (though not the Sigs), source is Oppo 103, amp is Krell s300i. After countless hours, I finally got the most cohesive sound with the speakers 7 feet apart, no toe-in, and 16 inches from the front wall, (all measurements from the tweeters). Just goes to show me, again, each room will dictate speaker position. Glad to hear you got yours dialed in. Happy listening!

@tomcarr  As a one time owner of 2Cs, are you hearing much in the way of soundscape depth with the speakers so close to the wall behind them?
@willemj - hey, thanks. I’m aware that bass management methods are far different than simple higher frequency scattering/absorption, but I appreciate the feedback, especially delivered in a friendly recommendation.

I’m trying to decide between bass panels or slack membrane absorbers. Any recommendations?

Funnily enough, @geoffkait , I recently moved an orange tree back into my listening room after it was outside all summer. I’ve been having boomy bass issues and have some measurements showing me the frequencies that are not decaying fast enough. After I moved the orange tree inside, the bass issues are reduced by a significant amount. Decay times and volumes of spikes are greatly reduced.

Plant power! This tree is helping my sound...
toddverrone, that’s nice but how does it sound? you might be the exception that proves the rule. :-) or you could be a plant. :-)
@hifiman5 , 

I am fortunate to have a dedicated listening room with acoustic treatment on all walls including ceiling. The perceived soundstage is actually deeper and bigger now than it was when the speakers were further from the front wall but without any room treatment.
Michael Fremer made a comment that acoustic treatment can make the walls disappear. It did in my case. Best improvement in SQ for me.

A few days ago a posted a link to a BBC handbook on control room design that had extensive discussion of the diferent ways to treat a room. I don't seem able to find it now.
I feel everyone's pain, been there, done that, have the t-shirt with speaker positioning.
In my case I struggled integrating a new pair of speakers into a 24 x 26' room with pretty awful acoustics.  I got the speakers sounding really "dialed in", then had to start all over, after adding a pair of sub woofers.
The room added a single bass tone (no matter what notes the bass players were playing) that was about as loud as the sub woofers.  As I got the bass under control, eventually placing 10 bass traps around the room (with the help of REW and a calibration mic), I had to re position the main speakers to once-again get that "performer in the room" sound stage.
I eventually "got it" and have left well alone since then.
@tomcarr   Those of us with dedicated listening spaces have a distinct advantage over those who have to integrate their stereo gear into a family living space.  Great kudos to those dedicated 'philes who find that perfect spot with great positioning restrictions.

I would be willing to bet that you treated all of the corners of your listening room to keep sound from concentrating/distorting there.
@ejr1953   That's a big listening space!  I can relate to the one note bass problem as I had such a situation in our first house.  You went to much more heroic steps (10 bass traps) to get it under control.  I just looked at your system.  Great gear!  Adding the subwoofers really does change the way everything sounds.  It's not just about the deep bass they produce, it's about the sound of everything.  Glad to hear you had success in dialing everything in.

One question...How much of your system is running of the P10 regenerated power?
Once I realized that speaker placement was perhaps the most easily and affordably addressed key to good sound, and started to get the hang of how to best tackle the issue, everything else became much easier and cheaper especially when I realized getting placement right is the key to making even less expensive speakers sound pretty good.

I run speakers concurrently in 6 rooms of my house currently (off two good quality source systems). Two pair could be had for <$100 used these days. The biggest/best list for $6500 these days. They are all only enjoyable and sound very good (within limitations of each). The big bad boys pretty much do it all.